14 Breathtaking Birdwatching Destinations in Africa – My Bucket List!

Africa is blessed with many diverse animals, birds, and plants whose beauty can only fully be appreciated in person at many birdwatching destinations. Not on screen through videos and high-resolution pictures or paintings (heck no!), but by being there in person, taking in the early morning sunlight, hearing the wild birds, and smelling the wilderness.

Today, I’m going to try and summarize a bucket list of my preferred birdwatching destinations in Africa.

This list is, honestly quite long because of all the different geographic locations, and biomes spread across Africa. Some countries are also more endowed than others, with individual countries having several bucket list spots. The best spots are distributed through Eastern to Southern Africa with some standout locations in West Africa.

birds of africa
We all know the African Ostrich 🙂

Birdwatching spot number 1 of Africa: South Africa

South Africa is by far one of the best countries for birdwatching in Africa. South Africa has about 1000 bird species, and 69 endemic species; the highest number on the continent.

The country has well-developed infrastructure such as roads, airports, and hospitals, and also excellent hospitality.

All these are important in ensuring a good birding experience, not just the birds themselves; you won’t have a good experience if you can’t reach the bird’s habitat.

South Africa also boasts the highest number of endemic species on the continent making it a must-visit for any birder, both professional and amateur. Below are the top birding spots in South Africa.

Kruger National Park.

Kruger National Park is an important birding location with over 500 bird species, which is about 50% of the birds found in South Africa.

The park has more than 50 migratory bird species that arrive from November to April. The best spots around the park for birdwatching are the less visited Northern parts of the park.

the kori bustard bird
The Kori Bustard is spotted in Kruger park

The birds that are commonly seen include the hooded and white-backed vultures, marabou and saddle-billed stork, southern ground hornbill, brown-headed parrot, the secretary bird, the Kori bustard, bateleur, tawny and martial eagle.

Cape Coast region.

Of the coast of Cape Town, the warm Agulhas ocean currents meet with the nutrient-rich cold Benguela ocean currents leading to a thriving food chain.

The nutrient-rich waters support a thriving ecosystem and a large Pelagic bird community. The region has an impressive network of private nature reserves, provincial nature reserves, and national parks hosting about 650 bird species.

The top species of birds to spot in this region are the African penguin, cape sugarbird, Bank cormorant, Black harrier, cape rock jumper, Agulhas Long-Billed Lark, Southern black Korhaan, and the Knynsa warbler.

The best time to visit the region is from August to November. Some of the spots around the Cape Coast region include: Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Boulders Beach, Rooi Els, and Strandfontein Wastewater treatment works.

Birdwatching spot number 2 in Africa: Tanzania

Tanzania in East Africa is according to some, a vast preserved wilderness that is a safari goers paradise.

The country hosts some wonders in Africa, such as Africa’s highest peak- Kilimanjaro, and the second-largest freshwater lake in the world ( though it’s shared by Tanzania’s neighbors) lake Victoria.

The country has various geographic features and environments playing host to more than 1000 bird species.

Want to find the best binoculars for a safari? Check out my blog post here!

Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti National Park has more than 500 recorded bird species, with at least 5 species endemic to the park.

The park borders the Maasai Mara to the North, and together they form the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem.

The endemic birds that can only be found in the Serengeti include Fischer’s lovebird, the Grey Crested helmet shrike, the Usambiro barbet, the rufous-tailed weaver, and the grey-breasted spurfowl.

Usambiro Barbet Serengeti National Park

The best time to visit for birdwatching is from November to April when migratory birds are also present.

Tarangire National Park:

Tarangire National Park is another great bird-watching site with at least 500 species of birds recorded.

The park is named after the permanent Tarangire river which is the lifeline of the park. It is home to several dry habitat birds such as the vulturine Guinea fowl and Northern pied babbler.

Other birds to spot include Ashy starlings, yellow-collared lovebirds, and rufous-tailed weavers.

The best time to visit Tarangire is from the months of November to April when migratory birds are present.

Birdwatching spot number 3 in Africa: Uganda

Uganda is one of the greatest bird-watching countries in Africa irrespective of the fact, the country is landlocked.

The country contains many freshwater lakes and a large portion of Lake Victoria, and much of the country lies within the Nile River basin.

The country has a bird list equal to its bigger neighbor Kenya, and its variety of habitats is packed into a rather small area.

Uganda takes the protection of its wildlife seriously with over 10 national parks and 60 protected areas for birds. It has a wet but fairly warm climate with its main attractions being its swamps and forests.

In these places are birds that are range-restricted such as Uganda’s only endemic species, the Fox’s weaver.

The Fox Weaver from Uganda

Others include the illusive shoebill stork, orange weaver, swamp flycatcher, stripe-breasted tit, Rwenzori turaco, blue-throated sunbird, and strange weaver.

The country has several good spots for birdwatching with the best to visit being Bwindi’s Impenetrable Forest. Others include the Rwenzori Mountains National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, and Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Bwindi is one of the must-visit spots in Africa for birders. The park is home to over 350 species of birds, with around 14 of these species having been recorded nowhere else in Uganda.

Some notable species to look out for include the blue-headed sunbird, Neumann’s Warbler, African harrier hawk, African green pigeon, crowned hornbill, giant kingfisher, cinnamon-chested bee-eater, purple-breasted sunbird, and Shelley’s Crimsonwing.

Birding can be carried out throughout the year, but the best time to visit is during the rainy season from March to April and in September.

During this season, food is abundant, and shy but reclusive birds come out to feed and migratory birds make their stops.

Are you thinking about buying binoculars to have a good look at all the magnificent birds of Africa?

Birdwatching spot number 4 in Africa: Botswana

Botswana is a country that offers a lot for birders. Most of the country is arid and is covered by dry grassland, shrubs and trees, but the Northern regions are wet (Okavango and Chobe River delta), and have tropical woodlands.

Botswana doesn’t boast an endemic species but it has over 600 species occurring there. The country is generally hot as most of it falls under the Kalahari ecosystems. The best area to visit for a spot of spectacular bird watching is the Okavango Delta.

Okavango delta.

Botswana has a vast arid wilderness and beautifully lush wetlands in the Northern regions that are just starting to visit because of all the bird life concentrated there.

The region boasts over 400 recorded species of birds, with habitats ranging from lush riverine forests, papyrus reed-covered lagoons and waterways, and woodlands and grasslands that are seasonally flooded.

Species to look out for include the Slaty egret, Wattled crane, Pygmy goose, white-backed night herons, pink-backed pelicans, western banded snake eagle, bat hawk, Chirping cisticola, and Pel’s fishing owl.

The best time to visit this region is in October after the long rains.

Birdwatching spot number 5 in Africa: Namibia

Much of Namibia’s Western and Southern regions are covered by the Namib desert which is also the driest desert in Africa.

The country boasts over 650 confirmed species of birds with one endemic species; the Dune Lark, that can only be found in the dry Namib desert.

There are two areas in Namibia that offer great bird-viewing experiences: Caprivi Strip, and Etosha national park.

me at the Etosha Pan national park

Caprivi strip.

This is a narrow strip of land between Botswana and Angola encompassing the Kavango and Zambezi rivers.

This region has over 480 bird species, about three-quarters of all bird species in Botswana, making it a must-visit spot for keen bird watchers. The area has lush wetlands and flood plains, with both wooded and open savannahs.

Some impressive birds to spot here include the Cinderella waxbill, rufous-tailed palm thrush, grey kestrel, slaty egret, and superb starling.

The ideal time for visiting this area is during the rainy season from December to March when most birds are breeding.

April and May are also quite good, as the land is still green from the rains, but the heat and mosquitoes aren’t as oppressive.

Birdwatching spot number 6 in Africa: Ethiopia

Ethiopia is an impressive country that contains an impressive range of highland mountains and plateaus that are divided by the Great Rift Valley.

The country has more than 900 confirmed species of birds and 37 endemic or near-endemic species: the second-highest number in Africa.

This great diversity of terrains from mountain Highlands to arid lowlands has led to a myriad of environments. The best place to access the unique Ethiopian highlands ecosystems for birders is Bale Mountains National Park.

Bale Mountains National Park.

Bale Mountains National Park has over 300 species of birds and has been described by some as one of the best birding destinations in Africa: a true bucket list location.

The park has about 11 birds that are near-endemic to only Ethiopia and Eritrea and 6 endemic species that are remarkably easy to find and spot.

These include the Abyssinian Catbird, Abyssinian longclaw, Bale Parisoma, Blue-winged goose, spot-breasted lapwing, and yellow-fronted parrot.

The park also plays host to a variety of Palearctic migratory visitors from November to March.

April to September is also a good time to visit as it is the rainy season and most resident birds will be quite vocal, and in their breeding plumage.

Birdwatching spot number 7 in Africa: Senegal

Senegal is a gem in the West African region for bird watching, giving you a chance to view birds that can only be found in the Sahel.

Senegal also has one of the most impressive and important wetland habitats in the world, the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary.

Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary

The Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary is a Ramsar wetland site ( a Ramsar site is a wetland that provides habitat for waterfowl and is of international importance) and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The site is important to and popular with migratory birds that have just crossed the Sahara desert.

The Cormorant

It provides a sanctuary for over 400 species of birds including the Purple heron, White pelican, Cormorant, Great egret, Pink Flamingo, and African spoonbill.

Birdwatching spot number 8 in Africa: Kenya

Kenya is synonymous with wildlife and tourism and is one of the most visited destinations on the African continent.
The country is divided halfway by the equator and thus offers a comfortable, warm climate throughout the year divided by two rainy seasons in March and September.

The country holds some remarkable birding locations starting from the rift valley lakes, and its many national parks to the coastal regions.

Rift valley lakes

The lakes on the Kenyan Rift Valley provide some of the best bird-watching vistas in Africa.

Water is life, a simple fact that is evident from the diverse species of birds found around these lakes.

The major lakes of the Kenyan rift valley include Lake Turkana (fresh), bogoria (saline), Baringo (fresh), Nakuru (saline), Naivasha (saline), and Magadi (extremely saline).

The alkaline lakes play host to flamingos, both greater and lesser flamingos (the lakes form a crucial feeding and breeding ground).

greater flamingo big group
Plenty of flamingos in Kenya

The lakes also play host to a lot of migratory birds such as Gull-billed tern, yellow-billed stork, little grebe, black-necked grebe, yellow-billed stork, pied avocet, and the African spoonbill.

The best time to visit is during the short rains period between September and December when most Palearctic migratory birds are present and many species are in their breeding plumages.

Are you thinking about buying binoculars to have a good look at all the magnificent birds of Africa?

Birdwatching spot number 9 in Africa: Madagascar

Madagascar is unique in that it has few bird species relative to its size. But its location and isolation have led to the development of more endemic genera (a whole family of species) than any other African country at 37.

The country has about 256 different species of birds spread across three different floral and climatic regions.

Also, the country’s diminishing wetlands hold some birds such as Africa’s most endangered bird, the Madagascar pochard can only be found in a certain part of Madagascar.

Due to the diversity and specific habitats of different birds, to get the chance to view the birds of Madagascar you’ll have to visit the different locations due to how specialized and restricted the birds are to their habitats.

Some of the locations that you can visit include Ankarafantsika National Park, Ranomafana National Park, and Andasibe Amantadine National Park.

Birdwatching spot number 10 in Africa: Zambia.

Zambia is rich in bird numbers and species and birders may be spoilt for choice. The country has a large pristine wilderness, with most of the country being drained by the Zambezi River system and the rest lying within the Congo Catchment basin.

There have been about 750 confirmed sightings of different bird species both residents and migrants. Birdwatching is most prolific during the wet season, from November to March, when insects are in plenty and the foliage thick.

During this season, many bird species will have their breeding foliage on full display and Palearctic migrant species will be in town.

Due to the heavy rainfall experienced during this season, many camps and lodges will close down and some areas of the country will be difficult to access. But visitors will have discounted rates in the remaining camps and lodges, so a win-win.

There are several birding spots spread across the country such as, South Luangwa National Park, Lochinvar National Park, Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage, Kafue and Bangweulu Swamp. Let us explore two of the best birding spots in Zambia.

South Luangwa National Park.

South Luangwa National Park is home to about 450 species of birds of the 750 species spotted in Zambia. At the park are a variety of swamps that are extremely important to the survival of many wetland species of birds and are designated a Ramsar Site. In these swampy wetlands, you’ll find one of the most elusive and rare birds in Africa, the Shoebill Stork.

Some of the bird species you’re likely to find here include the Crowned Crane, Carmine Bee Eater, Ground Hornbill, African Fish Eagle, Heugoin Robin, Pranticoles, Marsh Tchagra, Swamp Flycatcher, black Egrets, Slaty Egrets, and different species of ducks.

Birdwatching spot number 11: Rwanda

Rwanda is landlocked, small, hilly, and more known for its population of mountain gorillas than its richness in birdlife.

This is partly a result of the gorilla tourism overshadowing avi-tourism. Rwanda boasts a variety of habitats from lakes, rivers, swamps, grasslands, montane forests and mountains.

Due to the country’s size and advanced infrastructure birding tours of the whole country can be completed with relative ease.

Being close to the equator, Rwanda has only two seasons; wet and dry. The wet season occurs twice yearly and is on the heavy side from March to May and from August to October. Birding is possible throughout the year, but the best months are between December and January when Palearctic migrant species are in town escaping the harsh winters up North.

Some of the best birding spots in Rwanda are; Nyungwe National Park, Akagera National Park, Volcanoes National Park, Rugezi Marsh, Lake Kivu and Gishwati-Mukura National Park.

Nyungwe National park.

Nyungwe National Park has one of the oldest and largest montane forests in Africa. The park alone boasts about 300 species of birds though they may be hard to spot due to the dense tree canopy. Unlike other birding sites across Africa where it may be easier to go birding solo, in Nyungwe this isn’t advisable.

To get the best experience and be able to navigate the thick forests well enough, then get yourself an experienced local guide. The best way to also explore the park is on foot or on a sturdy mountain bicycle.

These are some of the bird species you’ll more likely find in Nyungwe National Park; Red Collared Babbler, Rwenzori Turaco, Rwenzori Nightjar, Rwenzori Batis, Regal Sunbird, Purple Breasted Sunbird, Blueheaded Sunbird, Neumann’s Warbler, Grauer’s Warbler, Grauer’s Swamp Warbler, Handsome Spur Fowl, Handsome Warbler, Albertine Owlet, Yellow Eyed Black Flycatcher, White Eyed Slaty Flycatcher, Slender Billed Starling, Great Blue Turaco, Archer’s Robin Chat, and Mountain Oriole.

Birdwatching spot number 12: Gambia

Just like Rwanda, Gambia is quite small but rich in biodiversity and bird species. The country is situated in a boundary zone between the tropical rainforest zone and the semi-desert Sahel region.

As a result, the country is fortunate enough to have bird species from both regions and many vagrant species that have gotten lost on their migration South, or have stopped by to stock up on supplies before proceeding with their migration.

When planning a bird excursion in The Gambia, then a local guide will come in quite handy in spotting the vagrant, migrant and endemic species of the country.

green turaco

Birding happens throughout the year, but the bird population changes with the season. Migratory birds are available during the dry season from November to April.

The rainy season from May to October is best to witness birds in their breeding plumage, but the heat and humidity can be oppressive. Below are some of the best birding spots in the Gambia; Abuko Nature Reserve, Tanji Bird Reserve, Marakissa River Camp, Pirang Shrimp Farm, Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve, and Kotu Stream.

Abuko Nature Reserve

Abuko Nature Reserve is the oldest Natural protected area in Gambia, and easily access from its capital. The Reserve has more than 250 bird species that have been spotted. Some of the bird species to look out for include; Western Bluebills, Ahanta Francolins, Violet Turaco, Green Turaco, Oriole Warbler, African Goshawk, Green Hylia, and a variety of sunbirds.

Birdwatching spot number 13: Cameroon

Cameroon is a hidden gem among West African birding destinations. Cameroon has the highest number of endemic species in West Africa.

The country has about 900 recorded species of birds, which is more than any other West African nation. Cameroon is a country of diverse landscapes as it straddles the Sahara to the North, reaching as far North as Lake Chad, to the South West it has a vast coastline on the Gulf of Guinea.

To the South it borders the Democratic Republic of Congo and the climate is equatorial and the vegetation tropical rainforest.

Due to its vast forest cover the country has a wide array of forest species that are elusive and exotic such as; Grey Necked Rockfowl, Yellow Necked Greenbul, Yellow Throated Nicator, Clapperton’s Francoline, and Quail Plover. Other bird species to spot in the country include; Chad Firefinch, Rock firefinch, Little Grey Firefinch, Sennar Penduline Tit and Black Crowned Crane. Some of the top spots for birding include, Bakossi National Park, Bamenda Highlands, Benou National Park, Mount Cameroon, and Waza National Park.

Mount Cameroon.

Mount Cameroon is the tallest free-standing mountain in West Africa rising to a height of 4100 m (13451 ft) above sea level.

The mountain has an impressive cover of forest and vegetation and is home to a large number of bird species, though it is suffering from deforestation. Some of the birds that can be found here include; Cameroon Francolin, Cameroon Speriops, Brown Backed Cisticola, Cameroon Pipit, Bate’s Weaver, Cameroon Olive Pigeon and Western Green Tinkerbird.

Birdwatching spot number 14: Ghana

Unlike its Western Africa counterpart Cameroon which has a large number of special endemic bird species but the terrain is hard and difficult to conquer, Ghana is relatively easy to go birding in.

The country has over 760 species of birds, that can be found in a variety of habitats ranging from saltpans, coastal lagoons, equatorial rainforests, savannahs and woodland plains.

Ghana is also a relatively stable and safe country with good infrastructure, probably the best in the region that will ensure a perfect birding excursion. Some of the top spots to go birding in Ghana include; Keta Lagoon Complex, Densu Delta, Kyabobo National Park, Mole National Park, Kakum National Park, and Suhien National Park.

Mole National Park

Mole National Park is Ghana’s first national park and the largest protected area in the country. The habitat of the park includes savannah and broad-leafed guinea woodlands.

Some of the birds to spot at the park include; the African Dwarf Kingfisher, Oriole Warbler, African Paradise Flycatcher, Giant Kingfisher, Black and Grey Headed Heron, Sadlle Billed Storks, Hadada Ibis, Helmeted Guineafowl, Northern Ground Hornbill, Pel’ Fishing Owl, Pygmy sunbird, and Red Throated Bee eater.

Sadlle Billed Stork

FAQS on the Top 9 Birdwatching Destinations in Africa

In this final part, we will answer a few FAQs on the topic:

Which country is the best for bird watching in Africa?

South Africa is the most popular and best country in Africa for birders. South Africa has a well-developed transport network that renders even the remotest spots in the country accessible.

Apart from road infrastructure, hospitality, banking, telephone, and health services are also well developed meaning you’ll have an easy job planning and getting to your destination than in other countries.

It also has an extremely diverse habitat selection with about 1000 registered species of birds.

Which month is best for bird watching in South Africa?

The best time for birdwatching is usually during the rainy season from September to March. During this period, migrant birds are available and most birds are in their breeding plumages.

My Final Conclusion.

I hope that you enjoyed this blog post on the top 14 birdwatching destinations in Africa, but if you have any more questions, please feel free to ask them down below in the comment section!

You can also join me on my social media platforms for more pictures/videos and stories of my travels to Africa!

I wish you happy travels!

Kind regards


I now have a YouTube channel as well!


4 thoughts on “14 Breathtaking Birdwatching Destinations in Africa – My Bucket List!”

  1. Thanks for your article, this is an extensive list that will be super helpful for any bird watcher traveller. 

    This reminded me of my travels in South Africa, Kenya, Lesotho, and Swaziland. 

    I remember vividly the flamingos in one of the national parks we visited in Kenya. The colors were amazing on these alkaline lakes, and I can still remember the fact that it is the shrimp that they eat that actually causes their pink color. Fascinating. 

    My past travels were not bird watching focused, but your post has informed me about which birds to look out for when again I have the opportunity to travel to Africa. Thank you for sharing. 

    • Hi Dale!

      Thank you for telling your story about the flamingos in Kenya, they are such wonderful and intriguing birds aren’t they? I have seen them myself in the Ngorongoro crater, amazing to see them “dancing” on the lake! 😉

      I hope that you get back to Africa soon, to do some birdwatching!

      Kind regards


  2. What a magnificent article!   It’s hard to know where to begin commenting on it…there’s so much.  Like a gorgeous encyclopedia to dive into and spend a lot of time with.

    I have ALWAYS wanted to go to Africa.  ANYWHERE in Africa.  Plus, I really love birds.  So looking at various countries in Africa through the lens of birds makes me dizzy with excitement!  Seriously.

    “Tanzania” is a word that makes me swoon. As does “Kilimanjaro,” and “Serengeti.”  And I really loved the book Darwin’s Dreampod, which was about an experiment with minnows introduced into Lake Victoria and how they separated themselves off into multiple subspecies.

    I’ve heard that the Maasai hate to have their photographs taken, because they think it’ll steal their soul.  And I actually agree with them. 
    Honestly, though, if I ever got to go to a place such as this, the birds would not be my main interest.  I would totally love them, but there’s so much besides birds. Here at home, I get excited just seeing the Sparrow family on the fence outside my window.  They’re all wonderful. 

    I wouldn’t just want to visit Tanzania. I would want to live there forever.  Get to know ALL the animals, plants, weather systems. mountains….

    Botswana and Madagascar also have a strong pull on me, but my comment is getting way too long!

    Thankyou for this beautiful post.  Reading it was a real high point in my day.


    • Hi Anna!

      My gosh, I can just FEEL your enthusiasm for visiting Africa and I must say: just go, haha! You will not be disappointed at all and trust me: besides admiring the big animals like lions and elephants, you will be amazed by the African birds as well, I’m sure. 
      While sparrows are fun, the birds of Africa are just another level, they are usually larger, more intriguing, colorful, and just overall fascinating, but I could be biased lol!

      You are very welcome and I hope that one day you will get to visit Africa!

      Kind regards,



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